E3 is like Christmas, New Year’s, and Halloween all rolled into one. Publishers and developers pull out all the stops to win your attention and get the world hyped for their upcoming games and products. With the constant stream of news, trailers, and announcements, it’s almost impossible to narrow down our list of Best of E3 Awards list to just 20, but these are our overall stand-outs (arranged in alphabetical order).
Every game and product in this gallery shares in our Best of E3 award glory, but there is one big rule for inclusion: it has to be playable at the show. So that means things like the reveal teasers for Metroid Prime 4 and Shadow of the Colossus aren’t eligible, no matter how excited we are for them.
Our awards represent most of our very favorite things at E3, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of other amazing stuff. If you want to catch up on things you might’ve missed, you can read our press conference wrap-ups; our list of all the new games announced at E3; and our series of features analyzing the highs, lows, and biggest games of the show.
But what were your favorite parts of this year’s E3? What games are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below!
Assassin’s Creed Origins
It’s been tough being an Assassin’s Creed fan over the years. While the first few games in the series were fantastic, its subsequent yearly entries began to grow tired and inconsistent. After a while, it became clear that the series had lost its edge, and its dwindling sales numbers started to reflect it. But after taking a year off to re-examine itself, the Assassin’s Creed series has finally returned. And what a return it is.
The newest entry, Assassin’s Creed Origins, drops the action-adventure sandbox structure of its predecessors and embraces that of an open-world action-RPG. What I’ve seen of the game’s world is impressive, displaying a sense of scale that I haven’t seen since Black Flag. The freedom added to exploration and progression is a giant leap forward, and its changes to combat and stealth are equally impactful. It’s almost shocking to see the multitude of improvements that Ubisoft has implemented into Origins.
The fact that Origins is a prequel also seems indicative of Ubisoft’s approach with the game. It’s going back to the series’ roots, attempting to create a game that channels the promise of the original. I haven’t been this excited about an Assassin’s Creed game since Brotherhood. To be able to say that makes me happy on so many levels. — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor
Call of Duty: WWII
As a longtime Call of Duty player, seeing the series go back to World War II is both exciting and cause for hesitation. Before I got my hands on multiplayer, I wasn’t sure how I’d adjust to the past after years of playing futuristic shooters. After playing it, though, I was more excited than I’d been during the multiplayer reveal in E3 Sony’s conference.
Call of Duty: WWII isn’t as movement-focused or vertical as its recent predecessors, but it doesn’t feel slow or sluggish. Team Deathmatch is still fast-paced and all about quick reactions, and the weapons have a satisfying weight to them. That said, the new War Mode is an opportunity to slow it down and try out deeper strategies that fit well with the World War II setting. The beta starts in August, so I’m excited to see how it shapes up.
On top of that, I’m also interested in the simple changes to overall gameplay that WWII is bringing. Health packs replace health regeneration for the first time in the franchise, and a greater emphasis on squad relationships means that a squadmate can be the one to toss you a much-needed health pack. It creates a unique kind of vulnerability that’s been missing from Call of Duty for a while, which makes me all the more interested in playing the single player come November. — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor
I’ll admit, I didn’t think I was ready to play more Destiny after the first game left me lukewarm (though still addicted). But Destiny 2 seems to be fixing the original’s smallest mistakes in ways that hugely impact gameplay. Things like not having to go to orbit in order to change destinations and the addition of more fleshed-out and populated locations makes me want to return to its world, and seeing it in action–in 4K on PC, no less–has guaranteed that I’ll be coming back for more.
The demo I played didn’t have any of those small changes, but it did have the same excellent shooting that I love about Destiny. I’m also impressed by the new weapon categories; dividing them into kinetic, energy, and power opens up the loadout variety a ton. Scout and assault rifles were both primary weapons, for example, but now you can equip a scout rifle on kinetic and an assault rifle on energy. It’s nice if you’re like me and stuck to one weapon type once you got a good exotic.
There’s also a bigger emphasis on story within the game, which was probably my biggest gripe with the first–I’m glad I won’t have to go into an app in order to study up on the game’s lore this time around, and hopefully that will keep me invested through the grind. — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor
Detroit: Become Human
I was barely aware Detroit: Become Human existed prior to E3 2017. All had gone quiet on David Cage’s thriller, and whenever I did hear about it, my disappointment for Beyond: Two Souls dampened any personal excitement to apathy.
But having now seen a new trailer and played a short demo of a separate section of the game, I’m excited again. Detroit: Become Human’s trailer shown off at Sony’s E3 2017 conference introduced us to a new character, Marcus, who has the power to enlighten fellow servant androids and give them sentience. The themes of slavery, suppression, and neo-noir detective fiction strike a chord with dark issues grounded in the real world, and they have me far more intrigued than I was before.
David Cage’s previous games have focused on human emotion more than perhaps others do, and Detroit is no different. In my 15-minute demo, I played an android negotiator, attempting to stop a fellow slave from jumping off a roof and killing a young girl. After a lengthy period of gathering evidence and information about the captor and his hostage, I attempted to talk him down from the ledge. And I felt awful when I failed. Even though my robotic character didn’t react–simply walking away with a blank expression on his face–I felt terrible for making the wrong choice and effectively killing the child. That a 15-minute, contextless demo could make me feel so guilty…safe to say my apathy has gone away. — Oscar Dayus, Staff Writer
Dragon Ball FighterZ
The Dragon Ball series has had a fairly rough go of it when it comes to nailing the style and action of the series. While few games have managed to evoke those same feelings of excitement and raw fun from the shows, such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse and the Budokai series, they still felt a bit lacking in their portrayal of raw and unadulterated DBZ action. So it was quite the surprise to see a new 3v3 2.5D fighter show itself at Microsoft’s conference, and I can’t tell you how much it makes me feel like kid sitting in front of my TV again.
Coming from the developers at Arc System Works, the same team behind Guilty Gear and Blazblue, they’ve brought their style of action to the DBZ universe. While they’re known for their focus on 2D fighters, in recent years they’ve implemented 3D visuals into the game, making the visuals feel more dense and dynamic, despite still being played on the 2D plane. From the videos we’ve seen, the action looks extremely hectic and fast-paced, which matches the pace from the series. Seeing Dragon Ball Fighter Z in action on the show floor was incredibly fulfilling as a lifelong DBZ fan. This feels like the game I wanted when I was a kid, and I can’t believe I’m finally seeing it happen. — Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Far Cry 5
The gameplay sequence shown during Ubisoft’s press conference was playable here at E3 and I had a taste of the Guns For Hire companion system. I choose Nick Rye to support my liberation of the small town, which came in the form of airstrikes on spots I could mark. A loadout that included a silenced uzi, assault rifle, and a few grenades gave me more than enough firepower to take back the territory, but I was still vulnerable and couldn’t take too much damage. The thrill of jumping through windows, checking my flanks, and popping off foes by peeking around corners reminded me how fun Far Cry games can be.
Aside from this companion twist to alleviate a bit of the lonesomeness of previous Far Cry games, it felt similar to its predecessors. But why fix something that isn’t broken? The captivating thing here is the vastness of Montana where everything feels like home, yet uncomfortable. My hope is the game doesn’t become a checklist of templated missions on a huge map, especially because there’s so much potential. There weren’t any additional story bits to pick up from the playable sequence, but it’s easy to see how the premise of taking down a deranged cult lends itself to the Far Cry formula. –– Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza Motorsport 7 faces a tall task in justifying itself as a worthwhile entry in the series. For many, the Forza Horizon sub-series is now the definitive Forza experience, having broadened the franchise’s appeal. But rather than try to be something it’s not, Forza 7 is doubling down on what makes it so appealing to diehard racing fans.
It’s no slight on the game to remark first on its graphics–this is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen. It’s astonishingly beautiful on a 4K HDR TV, particularly when the rain rolls in. Forza 7 expands its weather system so that you might see rain clouds in the distance that then move in and impact the race. Developer Turn 10 has gone to great lengths to ensure realism, even accurately modeling the spots on these real-world tracks where puddles tend to accumulate when it rains. There are also new customization systems (you now have a physical person to dress up and show off in multiplayer), a massive roster of cars (more than 700, now including Porsches), and a system for seamlessly moving from race to race, keeping the focus on the action rather than navigating menus. — Chris Pereira, News Editor
God of War
With the backdrop of Norse mythology in full swing, it’s interesting seeing Kratos in a new setting, albeit with a more weathered and seasoned presence. He uses some new weapons, such as the Leviathan Axe and a new shield, which he’s able to wield in tandem. It’ll be exciting to see what sort of moves you can pull off.
Of course, the biggest element of the story is his relationship with his son, and how he maintains control over his rage in the face of the many dangers that he and his son face. Though many expected a sort of extended escort mission with Kratos and son, the trailer showed that he’s got some moves of his own that allow him to stand by his dad’s side in the heat of battle. What I found most interesting about God of War is how it attempts to re-examine Kratos’ place in the world, and how his past has defined him. And whether he’s willing to pass on a piece of himself to his son–who himself is still learning the ways of the world. It’s a surprisingly soulful moment, and I’m surprised that God of War is digging this deep. I can’t wait to see more. — Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
I thought Kingdom Battle was a joke when the art first leaked. When you see a Rabbid dressed as Princess Peach taking a selfie, it’s possible that the first thing you think will be, “Why does this exist now?”
But Kingdom Battle, it turns out, is one of the most interesting, and most fun, games at E3 2017, and not just because Shigeru Miyamoto walked out on stage at the Ubisoft press conference and the creative director was extremely proud of it. It is a surprisingly complex, deep game that’s both quintessentially Mario and, at the same time, somehow a competent XCOM-like strategy game.
It’s an impressive feat of game design that a Mario and Rabbids crossover inspired so directly by XCOM nonetheless manages to balance all these disparate parts in a game that’s engaging and simply fun to play. It’s certainly not a watered-down version of a turn-based game, either. It’s hard, nuanced, and full of customization options to build out your team. I had an absolute blast playing it, and while I might still make fun of the selfie-taking Peach Rabbid, I can’t wait to play more. — Alex Newhouse, Writer
Metroid: Samus Returns
Nintendo has finally done it. After 13 years of waiting, we’re actually getting a new side-scrolling Metroid game. And not only that, it’s a reimagining of Metroid II: Return of Samus, which originally released on Game Boy in 1991. Titled Metroid: Samus Returns, the game looks to recapture the magic of old-school Metroid games, while also introducing new mechanics, like a melee counter attack and the ability to freely aim. These changes, while fairly minimal, are welcome additions to the series’ classic formula that I’m eager to spend more time with.
But the biggest appeal of Samus Returns is the opportunity to experience the narrative of Metroid II. The original game is available on Virtual Console, but by today’s standards, it’s nearly unplayable. To be able to experience the narrative bridge between Metroid and Super Metroid with proper, modern design is a godsend. Metroid II has been dying for the remake treatment, so to see Nintendo finally act on it with the help of Mercury Steam (a dev best known for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow), is incredibly exciting. This alone is what makes Samus Returns one of the most exciting games at E3. Let’s just hope that it isn’t as short a Metroid: Zero Mission. — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a delightful surprise back in 2014. It managed to both offer a different sort of Lord of the Rings experience than we were accustomed to seeing and provide some unique mechanics like the Nemesis system. Shadow of War makes that game look almost like a proof-of-concept, as it expands on what worked in Shadow of Mordor while also addressing its shortcomings.
Shadow of War expands the Nemesis system, with more potential variety for orcs. This serves to make them feel less like procedurally generated NPCs, and more like actual beings who are worth being remembered. Followers that you’ve recruited can also be impacted by Nemesis–choose not to help one when they’re bleeding out, and they might end up turning on you, creating a foe with a particular grudge against you.
Similarly, fortress assaults provide you with massive set-piece moments that can also feel uniquely your own. Whether through your personal history with the overlord, your approach to hunting down its warchiefs ahead of time, or simply the upgrades you choose when launching an assault (like bringing poisonous spiders to the fight), there are more ways for a playthrough to be distinct from that of another player. Whether this all holds up over the course of the full adventure remains to be seen, but from what I’ve been able to play, Shadow of War has the makings of a game that thoroughly improves on its predecessor in all the ways that matter. — Chris Pereira, News Editor
Need for Speed: Payback
When I think about my favorite Need For Speeds, I recall the narrative focus of The Run and the chase-centric focus of the last Hot Pursuit. Having a Need For Speed that paired these two elements into one package seems too good to be true, but that’s exactly that Payback promises to deliver. Based on my time with this next Need For Speed, I have reason to be optimistic.
This would not be possible if not for the uninterrupted transitions from the driving sections that make up most of Payback to the cinematics, forming the narrative connective tissue. Even better, you’ll be jumping from the different perspectives of the story’s co-protagonists–who appear to be car thieves for hire–with very little warning.
In 2017, it seems that no racing game that has elements of heists and chases is worthwhile unless it offers some degree of The Fast And The Furious theatrics. If what I’ve seen and played at E3 was a sample indicative of the full game, prepare for some vehicular antics beyond the usual sideswipes at 120 mph. And having plot-driven goals provides a fresh change of pace from the usual objectives of finishing first or getting the best race times. — Miguel Concepcion, Senior Editor
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch enraptured fans by bringing the magic of Studio Ghibli to a fully fledged RPG with an emotional journey. It felt as if I lived in a Miyazaki film, with the likes of Mister Drippy and a vast cast of Familiars. But this sequel separates itself from the the first with a whole new cast and story, but retains its charm.
We get to return to this universe but with the king of Ding Dong Dell, named Evan. Instead of the pokemon-like creatures of the previous game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom gives us the Pikmin-inspired Higgledies. Although they don’t do much in terms of damage, their support was key to surviving in the playable demo. The battle system has been revamped as well, and it feels much faster and fluid, but there was too much to learn in a short period of time. I’m hopeful that its depth will compel me to see the game through, since it’s going to be a massive RPG with a huge game world. My battle with a fire dragon could have taken up my entire session, so you can expect some long, drawn-out battles.
All the while, Revenant Kingdom is still wrapped in a familiar charm and beautiful design that makes even the tougher moments enjoyable. — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Insomniac’s upcoming PS4 exclusive, simply titled Spider-Man, was the surprise finale to Sony’s E3 2017 conference on Monday. We saw a gameplay demo of Spidey climbing rooftops, beating bad guys, and gliding around to save the world from the latest bad guy. It was all very Batman: Arkham, only with added arachnids–and you know what? That’s fine by me.
Since Treyarch made Spider-Man 2 in 2004, Rocksteady’s Batman series has been the sole shining light for video game superhero fans. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City in particular set a new standard for comic book video games, and it’s about time Spider-Man got back into that action. The combat may have borrowed a few ideas from Batman’s, sure, but what’s a little crowdsourcing between super-friends?
Insomniac also says it’s attempting to appeal to a broad range of the Spider-Man audience, from casual players like myself who might have only watched the films to hardcore comic book fans who know the franchise inside out. That’s reflected in the cast: the demo shown at E3 showcased both Wilson Fisk–one of the more well-known villains of the Marvel universe–and Mr. Negative.
I’m excited to learn more about which other bad guys we might fight in the full game, to explore Marvel and Insomniac’s universe in greater detail, and to smash headfirst into a New York skyscraper (or three because I’m bad at games). — Oscar Dayus, Staff Writer
Star Wars Battlefront II
2015’s Star Wars: Battlefront was a fun game that captured the spirit of the Star Wars franchise, and gave players an opportunity to be a hero–or a villain–and live out their fantasies. The multiplayer-only game was tremendously successful, shipping 14 million copies, which made it one of the most commercially successful Star Wars games ever. However, it lacked depth and there was no single-player whatsoever, both points frustrating fans who wanted more. EA is listening to the feedback around the first game, as the sequel has a campaign and the multiplayer is expanded and improved upon in meaningful, significant ways.
The campaign stars an all-new hero, Iden Versio, who fights for the Empire. This is a story of the bad guys, and it’s pretty cool to think about the storytelling opportunities. The multiplayer, meanwhile, which is the bread and butter of the franchise, looks like it corrects the issues of the original and pushes things forward in a way that fans will be excited about. Weapons feel weightier and lack the same-ness that plagued the original.
The map design, at least what we got to play at E3, is smart and alluring. And the new characters–Rey, Darth Maul, and Yoda, to name a few–are exciting additions to the roster. Another bright spot? The multiplayer DLC is all completely free. Battlefront II launches in November for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. — Eddie Makuch, AU Editor
Super Mario Odyssey
The Super Mario series has an excellent track record, and Nintendo could have played it safe when developing a new Mario game for Switch by following in Super Mario 3D World’s footsteps. Instead, Nintendo cooked up a game that bucks tradition, introducing surprising mechanics and systems that ultimately reshape what a 3D Mario game can be. It worked for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and based on our hands-on time with the game, we are already convinced that Super Mario Odyssey is going to be special when it releases later this year.
Chief among these changes is the structure of the game: rather than introduce levels within a themed world, Super Mario Odyssey gives you open-ended sandbox-style kingdoms to explore. These mini-worlds are jam-packed with platforming challenges, one-of-a-kind puzzles, and NPCs ready to hand out sidequests. But even within this very non-Super Mario structure, there are bite-sized obstacles that feel like they could have been ripped straight out of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine.
Where power-ups earned by killing enemies gave you the upper hand in the past, Super Mario Odyssey allows you to literally inhabit enemies’ bodies by throwing Mario’s hat, Cappy, onto their head. You can do this to just about any enemy you see, and experimenting with your options opens up new ways to navigate environments, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles. This mechanic and Super Mario Odyssey’s creative level design feel like the perfect pairing, and we can’t wait to see what lies in store for us when the game ships in the fall on October 27th. — Peter Brown, Senior Editor
The Artful Escape
Gorgeous indie game The Artful Escape was one of the many games shown at Microsoft’s E3 conference, and it flew under my radar among all the other announcements until I actually played it. It stars a guitar player navigating a 2D dreamlike world. It’s not yet clear exactly what’s happening story-wise, but he sees a ghost-like vision of a woman who speaks to him in mysterious riddles. Most interestingly, he can navigate by playing his guitar: “shredding” gives him an extended jump, and playing the right notes in the right places will allow him to pass through. Along the way, he’s grappling with his place in the world.
The Artful Escape is visually stunning–the demo, at least, takes place in a shimmery, twilight mountain area decked with pink string lights that reflect off the snow. But it also has an ethereal tone and intriguing take on a story about identity, both of which make me want to see more beyond its aesthetics. — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor
Total War: Warhammer II
The uniqueness of this first sequel to the Total War: Warhammer trilogy is two-fold, by taking both the Total War and Warhammer properties to completely new realms. From The Creative Assembly’s perspective, their strategy series has come a ridiculously long way since Shogun: Total War. As a Warhammer game, it pushes the boundaries of what one can expect from this long-running fantasy sci-fi franchise.
As a sequel with a new setting, Total War: Warhammer 2’s main region is generally known as The New World. While it’s not meant to draw analogies to North America, jungle settings and stone temples convey an unmistakable South American feel. The Lizardmen tribe–one of the four factions that also includes High Elves and Dark Elves–complement the land’s many tropical areas.
Conquering this vast region with one of the factions by relying on classic real-time strategy tactics is involving on its own but it wouldn’t be a complete Total War experience if there weren’t other significant variables to consider. A great vortex has swirled for a millenia and–depending on your race–you’re tasked to either destroy or save this maelstrom. And if that weren’t enough, a free update will combine the regions from the first game with this sequel into a new campaign. Total War: Warhammer 2 looks to exemplify The Creative Assembly as a developer that knows how to plan out and weave a trilogy. — Miguel Concepcion, Editor
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of my favorite first-person shooters of this generation with its violent drama, bits of comic relief, and great level design. So, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel after watching its wild reveal trailer during Bethesda’s press conference. Having played through an early mission, it was clear that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus doesn’t stray away from its established formula, nor does it need to.
I was plenty thrilled to be back in BJ Blazkowicz’s shoes, or in this case, chair. BJ is crippled gets by on a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him from fighting. It seems that the Nazis have found the makeshift hideout which is a U-boat obtained by the Kreisau Circle resistance group. By activating electric fields that work as traps, I could avoid firefights. As I explored the nooks and cranny’s of the U-boat, I picked up context to exactly what’s happening back home. I even got to see familiar faces like Caroline, joining the fight in an exo-suit. However, this mission left me hanging as I was captured by an old nemesis, Frau Engel.
I enjoyed my time with the mission, but it’s not indicative of the entire experience since you won’t be strapped to a wheelchair the whole game. I wish I got to see a more frantic or suspenseful mission that could’ve potentially showed off new mechanics, but the premise of retaking Nazi-occupied America is more than enough to keep me hyped up for The New Colossus. — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Xbox One X
Microsoft already revealed that its upcoming console, previously codenamed Project Scorpio, will be the most powerful console on the market with its 8-core AMD SOC, but at E3 2017, Microsoft several new things about the system at E3. Perhaps the most notable announcement was the reveal of the Xbox One X name and that the system will launch worldwide for $499 on November 7.
Design-wise, it’s the smallest Xbox yet, and aesthetically, it looks a lot like a black Xbox One S. The system played Forza Motorsport 7 at 60 frames per second at 4K, and I didn’t notice any frame rate hiccups. Developer Turn 10 Studios says the Xbox One X version basically runs somewhere between the PC port’s high and ultra settings. While the console is geared towards gamers with 4K TVs, Microsoft also asserted that the Xbox One X could offer gaming improvements for those who don’t own UHD displays: things like faster load times, added anisotropic filtering, and supersampling.
Microsoft also showcased several games to support the new hardware that include Shadow of War, Metro: Exodus, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and more. — Jimmy Thang, Technology Editor